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84 Charing Cross Road (VMC) Paperback – 1 Sep 1982

4.7 out of 5 stars 106 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere; New Ed edition (1 Sept. 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0751503843
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751503845
  • Product Dimensions: 18 x 1.6 x 15.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A lovely new edition of this classic title (Good Book Guide)

A must for anyone who reads - the correspondence between book lover Helen Hanff and Messers Marks & Cross of Charing Cross Road has been reissued. (Daily Express)

Unmitigated delight from cover to cover (DAILY TELEGRAPH)

A real-life love story . . . A timeless period piece. Do read it (WALL STREET JOURNAL)

Book Description

A timeless classic that should be on every book-lover's 'must read' list. First published in 1971, 84 CHARING CROSS ROAD has never been out of print.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"84 Charing Cross Road" is a series of letters charting the twenty-year correspondence between a would-be playwright in NY and Frank Doel, a London antiquarian bookseller. From such a modest premise, Helene Hanff has created something with an almost unique charm which continues to endure as a successful book, play and film.
To me the great joy of Hanff is her style. She is wonderfully conversational, humorous and self-depreciating. She describes her life - learning ancient Greek or watching endless English films - with panache. However, in truth very little happens in these pages. Rather, it is the gently teasing nature of her relationship with Doel which shines out, the feistiness of the young American lady chaffing against the more reserved nature of the quiet, polite English gent, as they read their way through the 1940s, 50s and 60s.
On her death, the Times said tartly, "Seldom has a writer sailed to literary fame in so slender a craft." It is true that 84 CXR is a very slim tome. Yet it is one that bears much re-reading, as it seems that somewhere between the lines there lie more than a few life-lessons for us all.
Pilgrims to the real-life 84 Charing Cross Road will be sad to find that it no longer exists as such. Look out for an "All Bar One" however and a dull, bronze plaque commemorating the bookstore.
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Format: Paperback
This is the first book I've finished this year since Jasper Fforde's "Lost in a Good Book" in February. My concentration and free time have been non-existent, which didn't help with my university-ingrained need to close read every. single. full. stop. in. a. book. I think it is very telling that with all the good books I've picked up and drifted away from since February, this is the one I put my foot down about finishing. For, this isn't just a good book - it's a great book.

The subject matter (the twenty-year correspondence between Helene Hanff, struggling NY scriptwriter and Frank Doel, poised London bookseller) is as brittle as it is beautiful, so I won't spoil the sparse human events that pepper this tale of literary friendship. Make sure you avoid all blurbs and introductions - which, assuming we are all more informed than we actually are, don't think twice about telling us how the story ends. Just read the thing.

I defy you not to have a lump firmly lodged in your throat when you reach the end. I know I did, even though I'd been preparing myself for it from page 1. This isn't a book which will have you in fits of laughter, or bawling your way through wads of Kleenex; it is the kind of book that has you constantly see-sawing between subtle grinning and eye-brimming.

I am not one to bandy the word "delightful" around the place (so few things nowadays are), but I think that's possibly the only word capable of encapsulating this book. I am happy that, on a whim, I purchased this in the beautiful textile hardcover Virago edition - I know I'll treasure this slim volume forever. I have found kindred spirits in Helene and Frank, ones that I'm loath to let go. The book, while giving me so much, also took a sizeable chunk out of me - having finished it mere moments ago and rushed to type up my thoughts and impressions, I'm simultaneously euphoric and depressed. I suppose I'll just have to read it again to find that chunk once more.
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Format: Paperback
I continually find myself surprised by the depth of emotion that I experience on re-reading this great work. I went to buy a copy just after seeing the film on late night television and some one bought the last copy just before me. Waiting the week for the special order whetted my appetite for it all the more. I must say that I highly recommend all of her works, "The Apple of My Eye," and "Q's Legacy" come to mind immediately.
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By A Customer on 23 Nov. 2002
Format: Paperback
I first came across this book many years ago and since then have read it at least 5 times. I think the extraordinary thing about it is that the book is no more than a selection of business letters - and a short one at that. However, through these letters you are given an insight into two different worlds, buzzing New York in the 1950s in the case of Helene Hanff, and down-at-heel post-war London in the case of Frank Doel. What comes through more than anything in this book is the essential humanity of the characters concerned. These are real people living real lives, whether it be Bill Humphries living with his elderly aunt in Southend-on-Sea or Mrs Boulton living in the flat next to Frank Doel. Naturally Helene Hanff's razor-sharp wit spices up the book considerably and no doubt played a large part in its success. I personally think it was a godsend that she and Frank Doel never met. No doubt the chemistry between them would not have survived such a meeting, as, deep down, I think both were essentially shy, able to express themselves much better and much more freely on paper than ever would have been the case had they been talking face-to-face. Read this book if only to understand what makes a good letter!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This has become a favourite book for me. Told with such poignant charm, through the letters and other communications from the time. Even those letters which are obviously missing, lost through the passage of time - tell their own story. Helene's long distance friendship with Frank Doel, and others he worked with at that now famous address is a bittersweet one, and one which will remain with the reader long afterwards. Helene's love of books is infectious - and this book is therefore a must for anyone who feels strongly about the books in their home.
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